Joel “French” Desbois is a Toronto-based musician and visual artist whose primary medium is fountain pen and ink. Self taught, he took up drawing upon moving to Toronto from Northern Ontario over 10 years ago. He has created artwork and show posters for a number of Canadian and International acts and has been displayed at a handful of gallery showings. His artwork is often crude and bizarre with humourous overtones and he cites R. Crumb as his primary stylistic influence but also loves the work of Dave Berg, Bob Clarke, Ralph Steadman, Marcel Dzama and Mattias Adolffson, to name a few.
Joel also plays guitar in Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs, a rock and roll band whose previous singles “Talk 2 Her”, “Tough” and “First Time” have graced the National Radio charts. Their newest album “REAL ONE” was released this February on Dine Alone Records and their newest single “Back With The Gang” is currently climbing the modern rock charts.
What ‘hood are you in?
I’ve lived in 6 different neighbourhoods since moving to Toronto and even though I currently live in Parkdale I would be hard pressed to pick just one to call my hood. I would say that you can put me anywhere between Bloor and Lakeshore, Spadina and Roncy and I’ll have a great time! I’ve only lived in the East End once and although I love it there my heart belongs to the West End.
What do you do?
Aside from drawing I spend a lot of my time working on music, either alone or with my band Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs, or focusing on my work with Woodhouse Brewing Co. where I serve as both a Retail and Territory Sales Manager, amongst other things. I also love watching the Jays and the Raps and spending time with my lovely partner Alix and our two cats Peanut Butter and Jelly. We recently just had our first baby together! So naturally that is taking up a majority of our time at the moment.
What are you currently working on?
I’m always working on trying to get better at what I do. For my art I am currently trying to incorporate various online courses and lessons to my drawing routines to improve my technique and versatility. As a self taught artist I’ve picked up plenty of bad habits that could use correcting but sometimes that also adds to the charm. It’s all about finding that perfect balance while having your own voice. I’d like to have another art show or two in late 2021 or 2022 as well. As for music, I’ve been trying to get better at that too. Again, I’m self taught and have a TON of bad habits but I’ve been taking piano lessons, learning music theory and trying to familiarize myself with the home recording process so I can start doing more things on my own.
Where can we find your work?
My music can be heard by searching Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs in any streaming service or you can find us @coffeyandlungs